WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Washington Wizards introduced Jan Vesely in a press conference on Monday, and it was clear that everyone involved in the organization was thrilled that he was a member of the team. Vesely was someone the Wizards had scouted for the last few years, according to coach Flip Saunders, and they were very enamored with his game.
"This is a pick that both Flip and the front office and Ernie were unanimous on," owner Ted Leonsis said.
Vesely has played for Partizan Belgrade, one of the top teams in Serbia and in all of Europe, for the past few years, growing into one of their featured players this season. He nearly entered the NBA Draft in 2010, but elected to stay another year, much to the Wizards' delight. General manager Ernie Grunfeld admitted later that had Vesely stayed in the 2010 draft and had the Wizards not moved up to the No. 1 pick, they would have considered taking him.
"The most important thing was to stay to play one more year, to get more minutes and to grow up, on the basketball side and with my personal life," Vesely said.
The Wizards' brass described Vesely's play as "relentless" several times. Saunders said he envisions him fitting right into the Wizards' rotation, saying it's very hard to keep players who play as hard as Vesely off the court. Vesely has to work on his shooting and his ball-handling, which he acknowledged, but the Wizards felt his energy is something that will rub off on the rest of the team.
"He's probably built more for our game than Europe. There are much more open-floor opportunities, not as much zone defense, more opportunities for him to do the things he needs to do," Saunders said.
Leonsis added that he in particular believes Vesely and the other recent draft picks the team has made will make the team tougher.
"You look at the teams that flourished in the playoffs: they were big, they were tough and they played defense. We're trying to remake the team, and you can't teach some of those things. A player like [Chris] Singleton - I saw him in the workouts, he just looked tough, he just looked mean. Adding that kind of bulk and strength, along with great talent, is what we promised John Wall."
Vesely, meanwhile, was asked about a number of different topics, including which player he emulates ("Growing up, I was watching Dirk [Nowitzki]. Now, I'm still watching Dirk,") his adjustment to Washington D.C. ("it's a beautiful city") and whether he is indeed the European Blake Griffin ("I don't know. I think so."). And, oh yeah, he was asked about The Kiss."
"I think nobody knows about the picks," he said. "On that night, everybody talking about the kiss. I think we went to history"